Engineering fees frustrate supervisors


Three projects on the table for the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors required input from engineers, and their pricetags stunned the board. The expenses resulted in decisions to delay or change plans at the Oct. 13 meeting and Oct. 16 worksession.

Martin's Mill Bridge is due $245,000 in earmarked funds acquired through U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster last year. It is for repair and restoration of the historic bridge. Insect damage has been recorded and Antrim also wants to determine the integrity of the entire structure. P. Joseph Lehman, Inc., consulting engineers from Hollidaysburg, presented a proposal for services, at the fee of $55,070. The supervisors were upset that in order to accept the grant money, they had to abide by the requirement of using an engineer.

"The heck with federal money," said James Byers. All were open to doing any work locally. The bridge is no longer used for vehicular traffic and none favored reversing that decision, which would incur more cost.

If hired, Lehman would submit information to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, apply for a stream general permit from the Department of Environmental Protection, prepare an erosion control plan, make a foundation design report, draw the final design, handle the bidding process, manage the project and prepare other documents.

Solicitor John Lisko countered the objections about Lehman. "In their defense, I believe they spent a lot of time applying for this grant and didn't charge the township."

Administrator Brad Graham said when the township paid for a lift to examine the insects, it could have an engineer on site at the same time to inspect the whole bridge. The supervisors ruled that out, saying they would wait until spring for any engineering work.

Concession stand

The township received a DCNR matching grant of $225,000 for Antrim Township Community Park. Plans include a concession stand for the middle of the baseball complex. It would include restrooms. Any stand must be engineered, Graham said, but an out was to put up a pre-fab cedar building obtained through Costars, Pennsylvania's cooperative purchasing program. That would cost $200,000.  Fred Young III supported that avenue, stating if Antrim did not use the money, it could lose eligibility for future grants.

"The (grant) is taxpayer money," said Chairman Curtis Myers. "If we don't use it, someone else will."

In the past, Sam Miller had opposed the cedar structure, citing problems with insects, woodpeckers and graffiti. He was absent at the Oct. 13 meeting. On Aug. 25, he was one of three supervisors present. He, Byers and Rick Baer unanimously passed a motion to not put up the cedar concession stand but to bid out for a block building, which would match the restrooms near the pavilion. On Oct. 16 all five supervisors were present when the topic surfaced again.

Graham said the township could design its own building and pay prevailing wage for the labor. Miller did not care if the grant was used for the project, he just wanted a maintenance-free building. Tempers rose during the course of the discussion.

Myers moved to purchase the cedar building. Graham said because the preliminary plan was on hand, the township could spend $5-15,000 to have it certified for block, to more closely resemble the concession stands the board had visited in Marion and at Norlo Park in Chambersburg.

Because the two-story cedar stand would have several uses, with space for scorekeepers or a meeting room, Myers pushed for his motion. He said DCNR liked multi-purpose facilities and Antrim would have a better chance for future grants. He had noted in the first meeting that DCNR's budget for 2010 was slashed.

Byers stepped in. "I'm with Sam. I don't want to spend that kind of money on a concession stand. We can hire laid-off construction workers for six months and avoid prevailing wage."

Young said that when Antrim applied for the grant, it agreed to follow the rules. "It's one and a half years later. We're running out of time."

Miller wondered who came up with the idea of using the cedar shell in the first place.

Myers replied, "There's a lack of communication here." Miller agreed that was too common on the board.

Myers moved to put Miller in charge of the concession stand. Baer moved to authorize Graham to draw up specs. The administrator said it wasn't necessary to redraw them but asked if labor was reimbursable. Young didn't want to do anything until clearing details with DCNR. Graham then announced that even the cedar stand would have to be bid out for the actual construction using prevailing wage, which could increase the cost to $250,000 for the 30x30 building.

All motions on the floor died for lack of seconds except for Baer's. His was amended to allow Graham to talk to DCNR, and if given the go, that Antrim would build the concession stand. The vote was 5-0.

Sewer plant

The headworks at the municipal wastewater treatment plant are in need of repair. The manufacturer, Parkson Corp., would charge $37,000 for parts and $15,000 for labor. Brinjac Engineering had indicated it would charge $8,000 for engineering services, including overseeing the project. The supervisors debated those charges at both meetings. Graham had spoken with the firm between and discovered Brinjac really didn't want the job, as it was not something they normally did. Lisko said both the parts and the labor should be bid out, because they were over $10,000.

In the end the supervisors decided to hire Parkson to do everything, and then the plant would be covered by the warranty.

Other business

At the Oct. 13 meeting Chris Beauregard, project manager for Green Spring Valley, updated the board on progress at the Craig Road subdivision. The latest plans called for 549 housing units on 200 acres. They would include single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes. It would be built in six phases with the farmhouse on the property preserved as a community center. He said the developer would go to the Planning Commission to ask for four waivers regarding frontage, road radiuses, intersections and road widths.

The hourly fee for Crystal Clark, Antrim labor attorney, was set at $175. She is on call should the township need her services for personnel issues.